The Royal Air Force in 1927 required a replacement for their current elementary trainers, the elderly Avro 504Ns. They specified that the power plant should be an Armstrong Siddeley Mongoose engine, a radial five-cylinder type, and the design should "have regards to the elimination of the Woodworking Fitter trades." In other words: the airframe, though not its covering had to be metal. This led Sydney Camm, then chief designer at Hawkers to design the Tomtit, a single bay biplane whose frame was of steel and duralumin tubes. The spars were made of tubular dumbbell sections, the whole aircraft fabric covered. Automatic slats of the Handley Page type were fitted to the leading edges of the upper wing. It had the standard fixed main wheel and tail-skid undercarriage of its day. The engine was uncowled.
Instructor and trainee sat in open tandem cockpits. The latter, at the rear, was provided with the then-new blind flying panel and a cockpit hood was fitted so blind flying instruction was possible. The RAF Tomtits had 150 hp (112 kW) Mongoose IIIC motors. The prototype was first flown by George Bulman in November 1928.
Hawker also produced five civil registered Tomtits. The first two of these started with Mongoose IIIA engine and the third with an upright in-line 115 hp (86 kW) A.D.C. Cirrus Major. It was thought that this latter, lower power engine choice might appeal more to public sporting owners. Three of this group were later owned by Wolseley, who fitted them with their cowled A.R. 7 and A.R.9 radial motors.
Between 1928 and 1931, 24 aircraft were delivered to the RAF for evaluation. After the first batch of ten, two more batches of six and eight aircraft respectively were ordered. The competition included the eventual winner, the Avro Tutor. Military Tomtits were sold elsewhere, two to Canada and four to New Zealand. Despite its failure to win the RAF contract, it is probable that more Tomtits could have been sold as it was very well received by their pilots, but Hawkers were heavily involved in the production of the Hawker Hart and its many variants. Consequently, they did not have the capacity to manufacture other aircraft. The Cirrus powered machine had turned out to be both rather underpowered and lacking the control precision of the standard aircraft.
In 1935 some nine ex-RAF aircraft joined the original five on the civil register. They were used by individuals and clubs as sports and training machines.
On 04/02/41, three surplus Tomtits were acquired from Leicester Aero Club by Alex Henshaw, the Chief Test Pilot at VACBAF (Vickers Armstrong Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory.) for use as personal transport during the early part of the war up until mid 1942. G-AFIB was destroyed in a night take-off accident during the war. Henshaw sold the remaining aircraft in 1946. The third machine, G-AFVV was destroyed at some point soon after the war. Another, G-AFTA, survived the war and was acquired and restored by Hawkers in 1949. This was donated to the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden in 1960 and is still operated by the Shuttleworth Collection to the present day.Tomtit
Two-seat training, club, sports and personal aircraft.
Tomtit Mk I
Two-seat primary trainer for the RAF.
Royal Canadian Air Force - 2 aircraft.
No. 7 Squadron RCAF
No. 12 Squadron RCAF
Royal New Zealand Air Force - 4 aircraft.
Pilot Training School
Royal Air Force - 24 aircraft.
No. 24 Squadron RAF
No. 3 Flying Training School
Central Flying School
One Tomtit still flies, the ex-RAF K1786 G-AFTA. This, the last RAF machine, completed in January 1931, initially served No. 3 Flying Training School. It joined the U.K. civil register in April 1939. During the war, it was flown by Alex Henshaw and gained a Spitfire windscreen and faired headrest. It was acquired and restored by Hawkers in 1949 where it became the mount of their test pilot Neville Duke and was painted in the dark blue company colours. In 1960, it was handed over to the Shuttleworth Collection, who returned it to its original RAF colours in 1967.
General characteristicsCrew: two, instructor plus trainee
Length: 23 ft 8 in (7.21 m)
Wingspan: 28 ft 6 in (9.70 m)
Height: 8 ft 4 in (2.54 m)
Wing area: 238 ft² (22.1 m²)
Empty weight: 1,100 lb (499 kg)
Loaded weight: 1,750 lb (794 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Armstrong Siddeley Mongoose IIIC 5-cylinder radial engine, 150 hp (112 kW)
PerformanceMaximum speed: 108 kn (124 mph, 200 km/h)
Range: 300 nmi (350 mi, 563 km)
Service ceiling: 19,500 ft (5,944 m)
Rate of climb: 1,000 ft/min (5.1 m/s)